Purpose: The musculoskeletal system sets the foundation of the infant’s future growth and development. Skin-toskin care (SSC), also referred to as kangaroo mother care, should be employed as a routine postnatal practice to enhance optimal growth and health of the newborn. Unfortunately, the benefits of this practice are underestimated by many healthcare professionals and parents are not always made aware of this beneficial alternative to conventional neonatal care. Therefore, the aim of this review is to evaluate the impact of medical interventions as well as reduced or no skin-to-skin contact on the newborn’s physiology on a long-term basis.
Methods: The literature search was conducted using Pubmed, Medline, CINAHL, Cochrane Library and Alt Health Watch to review the current evidence using the keywords skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, newborn and outcomes. In total, 31 articles met the inclusion and exclusion criteria and were eligible for this review.
Results: The literature search concluded that skinto-skin care (SSC) between mother and child is beneficial for the infant’s tactile, auditory, sensory, motor, vestibular, parasympathetic and sympathetic development as well as their mental state. Currently, conservative healthcare professionals continue to employ conventional protocols and underestimate the importance of encouraging early mother kangaroo care. Also, more investigation should be encouraged focusing on the impact medical interventions, such as intravenous lines, extraction, etc. have on the infant’s physiology and the child-mother bonding. C-section, prematurity and low birth weight may contribute to the complexity of the neonate’s situation, however, with appropriate surveillance, SSC is not impossible. There is disagreement about the optimal timing and the duration that SSC should be employed.
Conclusion: The research states that (early) skin-to-skin contact is the most simple, cost-effective and life-saving ‘intervention’ a child can get. There is enough supporting material showing its benefits on the child’s mental and musculoskeletal health. More research is warranted to establish the most beneficial timing and duration for maternal-infant skin-to-skin care.
Author affiliation: Roeselare, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
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